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Modular Hive Homes Win Mars Base Design Competition

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the i'll-order-a-dozen dept.

Mars 61

In June, we discussed news that JPL and MakerBot were teaming up to host a competition for designing a futuristic Mars base. The competition is now over, and the top three designs have been chosen. First place went to Noah Hornberger, who designed a base with hexagonal rooms and shielding made of depleted uranium. Second place went to a martian pyramid with an aquaponics system on top, mirror-based solar collectors, central water storage, and compartmentalized living spaces. The third place award went to Chris Starr for his Mars Acropolis, which was styled upon the ancient Greek Acropolis. It has a water tower at the top of the structure, a series of greenhouses at the bottom, and living quarters in between. The full list of 227 entries is browse-able on Thingiverse.

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Meaningless without drive (3, Insightful)

blackt0wer (2714221) | about 2 months ago | (#47707065)

These design competitions are great for inspiring the creativity, but we, as a species are not motivated enough to colonize another planet. Until that changes, nothing substantial will happen.

Similarly (3, Insightful)

s.petry (762400) | about 2 months ago | (#47707089)

Were we not just told a few months ago by NASA that colonizing Mars would be impossible due to moral issues? I'm too lazy at the moment to go dig this up, be my guest.

I'm all for this, but don't see anyone actually spending the money required to colonize anything. In a profit driven society where the greater good equates to "my phat wallet" it won't happen. At least not while the majority of money in the world is in the hands of about 2 dozen families.

Re:Similarly (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 2 months ago | (#47707615)

You are to smart for this planet.
You should stay silent.
The only chance for you is to ... either stay silent ... or reach the echelons you talked about.
Otherwise I see bad things aproacjing you ...

Re:Similarly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47707795)

The quality spelling and grammar in this post most definitely says that you are not too smart for this planet...

Hmm (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 2 months ago | (#47707847)

I'm not sure if that is a threat or a movie quote. If it's a threat, I am only frightened by your lack of grammatical skills. The "echelons you talked about" do and the rest of what you state is jibberish. Care to make another attempt in English?

Re:Hmm (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 2 months ago | (#47714323)

Sorry, was meant to be funny, an echelon e.g. in your post would be that: At least not while the majority of money in the world is in the hands of about 2 dozen families. The rich families.

Re:Similarly (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 months ago | (#47708019)

You're short sighted.
Who do you think owns the corporations that would make money for making the stuff needed to go other planets?

You do know that space craft aren't literally made of money, right?

Re:Similarly (2)

s.petry (762400) | about 2 months ago | (#47708057)

I'm not short sighted, I'm a realist. There is currently no profit to be had by trying to colonize the moon, Mars, mine Asteroids, or anything else in space. Rumors have said that rare minerals may exist in these places, but this lacks evidence.

Don't confuse that with claiming it's impossible, just that lacking evidence it's cheaper to sit here and cause trouble to increase wealth (which we see on massive scale) than it is to explore space and find giant diamonds and asteroids full of gold. If we had more evidence things may be different.

Re:Meaningless without drive (1)

Wraithlyn (133796) | about 2 months ago | (#47708047)

Thank you, that was very motivational.

Great, but... (2)

penguinoid (724646) | about 2 months ago | (#47707077)

When will we have the capability to send humans to Mars?

Re:Great, but... (3, Informative)

Narcocide (102829) | about 2 months ago | (#47707217)

We have that capability now, technically. We just don't have the capability to get them back safely, or for that matter keep them alive there for very long.

Re:Great, but... (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 2 months ago | (#47707663)

We have since decades.
The question only always was:
o speed to reach it
o surviving on it
o do they return
o money
o and: why would we

Well, I always had said: "why would we?", because I want!

Sure, it makes more sense to fly in 8 weeks with a vasimir rocket tham using 8 or 15 month with a Saturn V based system.
But from a rare technology point of view? We can do that since 50 years, /. ers will correct me and point out: minimum since 65 years.

Reactors and Magnetic Shielding (1)

sycodon (149926) | about 2 months ago | (#47707087)

Putting aside the logistics of getting a reactor to Mars (along with a myriad of other things that are currently "put aside") what size reactor/electrical powerplant/whatever would you need in order to provide the same protection from cosmic radiation as does the Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere?

Re:Reactors and Magnetic Shielding (1)

sycodon (149926) | about 2 months ago | (#47707167)

To Clarify...what size would be needed to drive a magnetic fields large/strong enough to provide protection for a small base?

Re:Reactors and Magnetic Shielding (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about 2 months ago | (#47707255)

That is a great question, though I suspect finding large deposits of easily mined and smelted lead could substitute for a larger reactor. The bigger question is generating enough oxygen, food and clean water for a crew big enough to maintain the reactor.

Re:Reactors and Magnetic Shielding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47707577)

finding large deposits of easily mined and smelted lead

It better be really, really easy to mine and smelt. Because Mars has no fuel or oxygen to burn and transporting any quantity of ore any distance is out of the question.

Re:Reactors and Magnetic Shielding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47707745)

Well, technically, MArs has lots of oxygen, you only have to remove the carbon or the iron from it.

Re:Reactors and Magnetic Shielding (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 months ago | (#47710855)

How about decomposing it in a solar furnace? Use the oxygen to help with life support and the iron to construct radiation shields or cast into structural elements to expand your base.

Re:Reactors and Magnetic Shielding (1)

dlingman (1757250) | about 2 months ago | (#47708163)

Um - dig a hole in the ground?

comment (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47707197)

before I looked at the paycheck saying $4755 , I didn't believe that...my... brothers friend could realey taking home money in their spare time on their apple laptop. . there neighbour started doing this 4 only about 10 months and recently cleared the depts on there place and got Citroën 2CV . why not try this out >>>>>> >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> CashFeed40.com

Re:comment (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47707303)

Because a Citroen 2CV is a crappy car.

Re:comment (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47707557)

Because a Citroen 2CV is a crappy car.

Maybe he's a European and doesn't know what a real car is like to drive, you insensitive clod!

Re:comment (1)

maroberts (15852) | about 2 months ago | (#47709791)

Its a bit difficult to say because of the complex nature of the car business, but European sourced cars are generally better than US models due to the realisation that corners are something to be enjoyed.

In Jaguar (yes I know its owned by Tata), Rolls Royce, BMW and Mercedes we have cars that everyone aspires to own, and that's before I get into mentioning Porsche, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Bugatti etc.

On the US side, you have one car manufacturer that is widely admired - Tesla.

Why build on the surface? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47707231)

If shielding is such an issue, why not set up camp in a cave system?

Re:Why build on the surface? (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 2 months ago | (#47708181)

Or just dig into the regolith. I like the hexagonal modules design, except that bringing something as heavy as depleted uranium to Mars in usable amounts will be impossible at first because of the weight. I picked up a chunk of DU once, the size and shape of a common brick; at first, I thought it was welded to the bench it was sitting on. No, it was just unbelievably heavy. I needed both hands to lift it.

So locate the hex design in a natural cave or make it earth-sheltered. If there are lava tubes on Mars like this one, they would be ideal:

http://www.fs.usda.gov/wps/por... [usda.gov]

Re:Why build on the surface? (3, Interesting)

HangingChad (677530) | about 2 months ago | (#47708693)

Or just dig into the regolith.

Finally. I could never figure out why the idea of either partial earth-shelter or underground shelters weren't considered for Mars. A shallow tunnel with an inflatable habitat inside would seem to be the ideal shelter. It would be easier to keep warm and shielded from radiation. It's not like you have to worry about flooding. Digging equipment would be a heck of a lot easier to get to Mars than depleted uranium. I remember holding a 30mm DU round and couldn't believe how heavy it was. You could blast holes or caves, although blasting doesn't always yield a stable void. Or just pile up dirt around the structures and cement it in place.

Any of those should be feasible if DU shielding is on the table.

So we only miss ... (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 2 months ago | (#47707243)

The craft bringing us there!

Depleted Uranium? (2)

Ksevio (865461) | about 2 months ago | (#47707277)

Depleted Uranium is very heavy - where are the people going to get enough of it? Shipping it there would be extremely expensive

Re:Depleted Uranium? (1)

Grog6 (85859) | about 2 months ago | (#47708035)

Yeah, this caught my eye as well. :)

How much fuel does it take to put a kg of DU on Mars? I would bet it's substantial.

Not only do you have to get it off Earth, You have to slow it down at the end of the trip, unless you want to dig it up and recast it, lol.
"Shielding Shipped Separately." :)

Not to mention the fact that a solid foot of DU won't "stop" Cosmics; I see ~4V pulses, ~1 per minute most times on systems that see a 511kev pulse at about 200mV. Dealing with that is an important part of a design, lol.

That's just the amount of energy it was able to dump in my detector after going thru a foot or so of lead; it kept going. :)

Re:Depleted Uranium? (2)

sconeu (64226) | about 2 months ago | (#47709277)

How much fuel does it take to put a kg of DU on Mars?

The same amount that it takes to put a KG of any other payload on Mars.

Utter and complete nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47707325)

This is what the 3D printing fanbois waste their energy on. And they think they're going to Mars too!

Really? (1)

dave562 (969951) | about 2 months ago | (#47707381)

The garden and kitchen are on opposite ends of the dining room?

Usability fail.

Re:Really? (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 2 months ago | (#47708225)

Because when they have people over, there would be too much running back and forth between the kitchen and the backyard grill.

A modular design allows you to design and build modules, and even get them to the site, in parallel to deciding on the best arrangement of the modules.

Was not that big a fan of design. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47707437)

The design is, kinda nice.
But the layout is awful.

The bedrooms should be near each other, with a bathroom separating them. (preferably on the side away from the living area)
Using this image of it [amazonaws.com] , switch the 3D print room and utility room around to the other side with the bedroom and bathroom. Literally just translate them over as-is.
That gives a nice working area on one side, bedrooms and bathroom in one area, entertainment in middle, then the eating space in another.

Equally, if we are going to go with a design that had a reasonable amount of oxygen available for it (so, not that anyway), you could go further and add 2 of those beds in a room. Quite easily. Not even stacked, you could add 4 if stacked. 8 beds to one of these constructions.
You'll need a tree farm somewhere for oxygen though. Or a greenhouse with efficient oxygen-generators.

Re:Was not that big a fan of design. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47710919)

I suspect living arrangements will differ on Mars when you have no proper "outside" to go to. Having the bedrooms far apart may ameliorate the stress of being forced to live in such close proximity to another person for long periods of time.

YEqS! fp (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47707535)

DeSign approach. As

Sillier and sillier (0)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 2 months ago | (#47707611)

Man can't even manage planet Earth. Let alone Mars. It has no business there until it shapes up over here.
Meanwhile, robots can do anything there, and elsewhere, and do it more effectively.

Re:Sillier and sillier (2)

aquabat (724032) | about 2 months ago | (#47707727)

Man can't even manage planet Earth. Let alone Mars. It has no business there until it shapes up over here. Meanwhile, robots can do anything there, and elsewhere, and do it more effectively.

With respect to not having any business there, I respectfully disagree. I think something like this is just what we need to get our shit together. We've been getting away with lots of unsustainable practices here on Earth, because our ecosystem is big enough to absorb the damage so far. The problem with this is that the consequences are too far away in time or place for us to care. Boiling the frog, and all that.

Mars, on the other hand, is a pretty unforgiving place. If we can't be self sustaining in a small closed environment such as a habitat for a few dozen people, we'll know pretty quickly. A successful setup on Mars should breed a conservationist mentality in Martians that can be applied back on Earth.

"Boiling the frog" meme considered harmful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47707987)

The "slow boiled frog" meme has been utterly debunked and just makes you look foolish if you use it. Yes, it's a common morality allegory about slippery slopes, but THE GODDAMN BASIC PRINCIPLE IS FALSE, so what's an intelligent person to conclude about the entire allegory?

Well: that you proved nothing and wasted everyone's time by trying to support your argument but failing miserably, that's what.

Re:"Boiling the frog" meme considered harmful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47709669)

You==fail.

Re:"Boiling the frog" meme considered harmful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47710347)

Nice rebuttal, fucktard. That's practically apk-grade quality.

In case you decide to start jettisoning your ignorance, I suggest you start with the Snopes article [snopes.com] .

Re:Sillier and sillier (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 2 months ago | (#47708253)

If we had paused for conditions in Europe to be perfect before developoing the Americas, every casino on this continent would be sitting here still waiting for its first customer to show up.

good ideas (3, Interesting)

aquabat (724032) | about 2 months ago | (#47707665)

I would lose the Uranium shielding, and just bury the thing instead. We need to use as much local material for construction as possible. As someone else mentioned above, nobody wants to pay to keep a colony going, so once we're there, it's probably a good idea to live as though we're on our own for good. If we want to sustain and expand our colony past the initial setup, we need to do it without Earth sending us stuff regularly. So, houses we can make out of Mars. That being said, I would make a couple of exceptions. First, I would ship some kind of self contained power source, like maybe a modular Thorium reactor, or something like that. Doing big construction projects is power intensive, and solar might not cut it. The second thing I would take would be fabrication tools for any supplies that can't be 3D printed, I guess. I mean, eventually, stuff is going to wear out, and Mars doesn't seem to have much in the way of tradable resources, so we're going to have to make our own stuff. By "stuff we'll have to make ourselves", I'm thinking space suits and mining/refining equipment.

Re:good ideas (1)

Ksevio (865461) | about 2 months ago | (#47709347)

The design devotes a whole room to 3D printing, but I agree underground would be better than depleted uranium. Thick layer of martian ground is much easier to get than 2cm thick walls of DU.

Re:good ideas (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 2 months ago | (#47710745)

"The design devotes a whole room to 3D printing, but I agree underground would be better than depleted uranium. Thick layer of martian ground is much easier to get than 2cm thick walls of DU."

No to mention that it's a toxic metal that weights 19.1 g/cm3 , 68.4% denser than lead, to transport that to another planet with rockets is going to be expensive if not impossible.

A single sheet of that 2cm thick shield, 1 meter by 1 meter would weigh 382kg, one third of a ton.

Also it still has 60% of the radioactivity of normal uranium, so you'd need lead to shield the uranium as well to avoid golf war syndrome on the astronauts.

Re:good ideas (1)

kaatochacha (651922) | about 2 months ago | (#47716929)

Ah yes, the golf war. We barely made it out of the bunker alive!

Re:good ideas (1)

aquabat (724032) | about 2 months ago | (#47722601)

Ah yes, the golf war. We barely made it out of the bunker alive!

It was a trap!

Minecraft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47711567)

They need to go Minecraft on Mars. In other words go underground.

Lots of shielding and protection from dust storms etc. Plus they could tap right into the permafrost for water and have direct entrances to mineral and material mines.

A hive for thranx visitors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47707735)

Well, it's good that they are preparing for possible alien contact. Thranx would likely feel right at home in a nice hive. Are they going to put them underground?

But what will they do if they find the AAnn first?

Cute but impractical (4, Interesting)

Ken McE (599217) | about 2 months ago | (#47707991)

All of these lovely fantasies have problems. The hex one adds complexity to the construction for no particular reason. The water tower on the roof becomes a single point of failure and will tend to want to freeze up. Caves would be nice, but what are the odds there'll be convenient caves located right where they want to set up camp? All of them would be complicated to build on Earth, never mind by a guy in a spacesuit

What they actually build will be an extension of our oldest and most mature design school - the square. They'll bring Titanium or Aluminum I-beams and bolt them together. For the sake of discussion lets assume a cube ten meters on each side, maybe an overhang all around the top. They'll bolt cross pieces and panels across the top and pile up regolith on the roof for the first layer of radiation protection.

Once they have this they'll go underneath and set up pressurized tents (if we can find suitable material for local conditions.) If tents work, they keep them. If tents are problematical they'll start building room sized cubes. The cubes will be essentially the same as the outer shell, but smaller and with caulked joints. As time goes by they'll start linking them. For safety reasons, internal air locks will be common. Water will be stored in flat compartments in the ceiling of each cube or tent as secondary radiation protection. Each room will have its own ceiling tanks so the loss of any one unit won't cripple them.

I assume they'll have a number of tanks of liquids and gasses - Nitrogen, Oxygen, Water, whatever else they need. Up on top of the regolith layer would be the place to store them. They'll be close to hand but out of the way, and if a tank fails there'll probably be no shrapnel issues. They will also lend a little bit more radiation shielding. If they have excess sewage it will be frozen in blocks and left on the roof for the same reasons.

The above feature will combine to something that has all the style and grace of a junkyard shack, but hey, it'll be easy to build, can be grown in stages as time allows, and it'll work. My apologies to those fancy design guys...

Geodesic (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about 2 months ago | (#47708789)

Geodesic domes. Most area covered with the least material and most strength. You would need something to keep in an atmosphere and geodesic domes are the clear solution.

But seriously, it has to be underground-- Mars is way too cold and has little atmosphere. How can people forget how crazy cold it gets on Mars? Do people not know that our air freezes in their winter? You'd have to insulate that water in the roof and heat it. We have troubles in Antarctica we should work out 1st.

You are better off waiting until we can figure out how to jump start it's core or devise a sun shield. Robots can do everything better and cheaper-- there is no good reason to go. People just need to admit they want it because it's cool; it has little practical benefit. NASA used to do a lot of planetary science; why not work on that and try to make that cool instead?

Re:Geodesic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47711411)

The near vacuum makes a GOOD insulator...

The problem is more likely going to be similar to that of the space station... How to get rid of excess heat.

Re:Cute but impractical (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | about 2 months ago | (#47709243)

You're probably correct, at least for the prospects of an initial outpost. Except for freezing sewage. I can't imagine they'll ever have excess sewage to freeze. All that water gone to waste. Not to mention valuable nitrogen and readily metabolizable organic material. More likely it will get processed and its constituent parts reused, and fairly quickly. Yes using human waste as feed stock for food plants is a little risky, but the chill and near vacuum conditions allow for industrial processes that could mitigate the risk rather cheaply. It certainly won't be an option to once-through all that material. A closed cycle will be required.

Cubes do seem to be likely, for an extended period, despite the issues with pressurizing them. Ease of precise assembly and speed of assembly will be the watchwords for building pressure vessels.

In any case, it'll be Elon Musk making the real decision. I suspect hexagons will get short shrift.

Re:Cute but impractical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47711315)

Extract water from sewage, then expose the dry matter to outside cold and radiation to sterilize it, use as fertilizer. Or maybe as fuel, or make shitburgers?

Re:Cute but impractical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47711933)

Yeah, those designs are cool but not completely thought out in the correct direction(s). The depleted Uranium as shielding made me laugh out loud. With every gram of weight being an issue for fuel consumption and storage using depeted Uranium is about as ignorant of practicality as you can get. The winner must think there's an Interstate between here and Mars that we can truck things like his unweildy structures to Mars. Even if the vessel were constructed out of these units prior to surface deployment it's still a stupid design due to the outrageous amount of weight. I would have downgraded that entry because I am sure weight was a major design criteria.

I'd like to see a different competition (4, Interesting)

istartedi (132515) | about 2 months ago | (#47709549)

I'd like to see a different competition. For the contest, I'll need some acres of cheap desert land. Nevada, I'm looking at you. The site should be selected based on similarity to Mars, as much as practical (e.g., sandy soil, rocks, etc.). It could even be in the dry valleys of Antarctica, although that might be a problem because people might see this as exploiting the pristine environment there.

Now here's the contest.

Based on a preliminary judgement process, participants each get temporary use of an acre. They are allowed to visit it exactly ONCE for an hour, and leave behind... a robot.

The robot's task is prepare the surface as much as possible for human habitation. There will be a mandatory delay in communicating with the robot, to simulate the actual delay communicating with Mars. To prevent cheating, all communications will be routed through the contest organizer's central server.

The winners will be judged based on how close they came to preparing something that could be quickly converted into a habitation by arriving people.

A few extra details need to be worked out, such as weight and size limits on the robot. Otherwise somebody might park an old 747 there and claim victory. It also needs to be something that could survive launch and entry. Contest organizers might subject each robot to predetermined G-force and temperature excursions at the start.

Maybe the contest should be allowed to run for a year or so. I think it'd be interesting.

Even without the contest, it would be interesting. It's a bit of an expensive hobby and perhaps more practical as a game; but there's nothing like the real thing. It could lead to actual techniques for surface prep.

Re:I'd like to see a different competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47711997)

Hear, hear - though Antarctica is definitely the better choice if considering Mars.

However, I'd offer a refinement:

They are allowed to visit it exactly ONCE for an hour, and leave behind... a robot.

They are allowed to provide a robot. The robot must be packed into a container that the competition organizers provide. The competition organizers then transport the containerized robot, set it down on the acre plot, and release the robot.

From there, it falls to the robot team to activate the robot and get it doing its thing.

Re:I'd like to see a different competition (1)

istartedi (132515) | about 2 months ago | (#47713695)

Yes that's a good point. The organizers should definitely be the only ones to actually visit the site.

I also just had the idea that to make it easier (cost-wise) on the contestants, they could provide electric power at the site. You could profile different power sources, and have weight and cost penalties based on what the contestants chose.

I think most would chose solar; but you could simulate the power output of an RTG. Most contestants won't have access to plutonium. :) You would also simulate Martian days when sending juice to outlets. Teams would still have to provide a battery.

Oh and yes, the rules would definitely have to state that if you chose to accept power from the organizers you'd have to pay for it, and not bring any other power sources on board.

Re:I'd like to see a different competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47712013)

They are allowed to visit it exactly ONCE for an hour, and leave behind... a robot.

The robot's task is prepare the surface as much as possible for human habitation.

How? All you left was a robot. Is the robot supposed to make its own bricks or something to build a habitat? Or, does this robot also have a Star Trek style replicator? Site preparation is not the demanding task. Building shelter and storage/collection for resources is.

Re:I'd like to see a different competition (1)

istartedi (132515) | about 2 months ago | (#47713591)

A robot that can cut and fit stone would come in handy. I'd definitely want some diamond saws on mine. I'd also look into some sort of furnace. Maybe you could only manufacture something like low-quality glass; but if you could make enough of it then you could seal in an atmosphere.

The resources that you can "bring from Earth" are obviously limited by weight constraints. Maybe you could bring some glue, expanding foam, or other compounds.

You obviously can't bring the entire manufacturing industry of Earth, so some things have to come on board. That's a real challenge that needs to be solved for Mars. We need to figure out what can be made on site, and what must come from Earth. Then you've got the even more interesting challenge of figuring out what industries can be set up locally after that.

I'm reminded of the colonial era here in North America. There was a shortage of nails around the time of the Revolution. A lot of nails had been coming from England.

I suppose once you have enough people on Mars to form an economy, the market would sort it out. Of course then you could have a Martian revolution too. I believe that scenario has been covered in some good classic Sci-fi but I haven't read it. Isn't that a big part of "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"?

Above ground hexagons? Only circles are stupider (2)

fygment (444210) | about 2 months ago | (#47712139)

You're on Mars. You need to keep it simple, and keep resource requirements down. So why six walls instead of four? Why complicated join angles? Does the fact that all but the most artsy furniture is _square_, and hence fits best in a square/rectangular space, lost on the designers/judges? Does the fact that Mars dwellers might come from Earth, and hence long for something familiar, not suggest that a square/rectangular design might be better for the mental health of the colony?

We are not bees. We are human. Mars dwellers will not be 'artists', but people struggling to survive in an alien and hostile environment. Hexagon houses don't make any sense here on Earth, where they are easy to build and maintain. Why in heaven's name would they make sense on Mars?

You know what would make sense? Frickin' trailer parks of 'portables' like we use in hostile environments here on Earth! Worried about radiation? Put them underground dumbass!

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